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L-D27 rescue team tests mine emergency response

Lodge joins with other unions, agencies in regional drill

A MINE RESCUE team from Local D-27 (Sugar Creek, Mo.) and eight other teams from across the Midwest tested emergency tactics and equipment during a drill at Eagle Materials’ limestone mine in Sugar Creek, Mo., Nov. 6-7. The event was sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Central Plains Cement Company and the Missouri Department of Labor.

Eagle Materials owns and operates the mine and the adjacent cement plant located near Kansas City, Mo. L-D27 members are employed at both facilities.

The drill involved four simultaneous exercises: underground communications, surface and mine emergency operations, rescue in a smoke-filled environment, and injury triage involving a simulated vehicle accident. MSHA’s new communications system was a key element of the drill. The system tracks the movement of underground mine rescue teams on digital maps, uses cameras to transmit critical information to a command center and monitors the presence and levels of underground gases.

MSHA Chief of Mine Emergency Operations John Urosek demonstrated the latest emergency response equipment and technology for media representatives and other observers.

Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA, also attended the event. He said, “Mine rescue will become safer and more efficient thanks to new technology that enables real-time communication between rescue teams underground and officials in the surface command center.”

Local D-27’s mine rescue team trains regularly to stay current with the latest procedures and equipment and takes part in four competitions each year, said Russell “Rusty” Woods, the lodge president. He called the equipment and technology demonstrated at Sugar Creek “eye-opening.” Especially impressive, he said, was the Dräger MRV 9000, a high-tech mine rescue vehicle designed to safely transport rescuers as close to an incident as possible, even traveling inside the mine.

Also taking part in the drill were teams from Doe Run, Martin Marietta, Vulcan Materials, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Lyons Salt, South Dakota School of Mines and Fred Weber Inc.

Observing the exercise on behalf of the Boilermakers International were Tyler Brown, Chief of Staff and Executive Director, ISO; and Tracy Buck, AD/AAIP.

For more information and a video please visit labor.mo.gov/DLS/workplaceSafety/minecave